Advanced yoga is not advanced asana, advanced yoga is advanced awareness. Awareness is wisdom earned through paying attention.
Avidya is the first of the kleshas. The kleshas are obstacles to freedom and joy. Avidya translates to "not-knowing". "Vidya" means wisdom or true knowledge, and "a" means "not". The practices of inquiry, curiosity, expanding perspective, and awareness help bring us to knowing what is true. Here are some areas where we often get it wrong:
Patanjali tells us that when the mind is still we perceive ourselves and the world as they really are. The state of mind called Yoga is oftern compared to a crystal or diamond so pristine that it reflects back exactly whatever is presented to it (I.4I). This reflective consciousness does not add, subtract, edit or rearrange the perception to suit its own agendas…
Making assumptions is such an insidious habit that it is the basis of much of our trouble in everyday life, scrambling our perceptions so that we taint our relationships and smearing our perceptual process so that we cannot recognize our own true identity…. Maybe someone let us down long ago and now we assume that everyone around us is incompetent, and so we conduct all of our conversations in a patronizing tone that gets on the nerves of even our most patient acquaintance. This habit of projection complicates life immeasurably, which is not the direction we want to go if we want to be happy.
The truly contemplative mind, on the other hand, is neutral. This neutrality does not imply dullness, or inactivity but instead a kind of alert presence that is always available. The neutral mind is called the “witness.” When we’re witnessing from this neutral, nonpresumptive place, the “me” is absent – the me being whatever collection of things I have stockpiled to make up my identity…the process of Yoga is one of deconstruction – removing these assumed identities….
Then when we see, we are seeing things as they really are…This choiceless awareness requires a radical form of honesty and acceptance: acceptance of self, acceptance of others, and acceptance of things just as they are…This relaxing into life affords us an immediate experience of happiness ad peacefulness that is not affected by life’s vicissitudes." (p. 176-78)
The practice of yoga offers us an amazing opportunity to know ourselves.
By Stephanie Adams, all rights reserved
Karma Yoga is often misunderstood. In modern day conversations, we say I better do "X" so I can get good karma. Well, Karma is about doing something from a spontaneous and inspired heart space without regard to the fruit of your actions. Even if you are doing something “good”, if you are doing it in hopes to have “good karma” you are missing the point and practice of true Karma Yoga. If any of us are at war, we are all at war, at a deeper level. There is a karma collective on this planet and in this universe, as well as individual karma. Individual karma, allows you to experience the lessons and growth you are supposed to experience.
"Ask yourself: Is there joy, ease, and lightness in what I am doing? If there isn’t, then time is covering up the present moment, and life is perceived as a burden or a struggle…It may be sufficient to change the how. “How” is always more important than “what.”…When you act out of present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care and love—even the most simple action..a powerful spiritual practice…non-attachment to the fruit of your action is called Karma Yoga." pp. 56-57, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
“Karma is internal, occurring within the spirit…we can think of Karma as a complex network of spiritual cause and effect in which we place our trust. Everything returns to its own state of balance. If we live well, in peace and love for others…our spiritual enrichment will inevitably travel back to us, perhaps along circuitous paths. We may not see the immediate effects of living in this way, but they will inevitably return to us and enrich our spirit by accumulation. In this way we are thoroughly in control of our destiny…
At a more profound level still, many people believe that karma and reincarnation are inextricably linked. This enables us to understand the differences in fortune that we experience in our lives on Earth – some rich, some impoverished, some at peace, some at war, and so on…our previous lives should not be visualized literally; material concepts cannot describe the ineffable.”
p. 130 Discover Inner Peace, by Mike George.
When you do something, there is a reaction ultimately to everything we do. But what comes first the chicken or the egg, the action or the reaction. Karma refers to everything we do or have done and its far-reaching affect on everything else. Karmas bring about the fruits of pleasures and pain (Patanjali YS 2:12) .
When we practice truly detaching ourselves so that we can have preferences without attachments we can be free from disappointment and pain and can continually practice converting everything to happiness. Pain is avoidable if it has not yet come. What we overcome is future sorrow avoided. (Patanjali YS 2:13-2:16)
“In the Bhagavad Gita, one of the oldest and most beautiful spiritual teachings in existence, non-attachment to the fruit of your action is called Karma Yoga. It is described as the path of ‘consecrated action’.” ~Eckhart Tolle, p. 57, The Power of Now
We can flow with Karma by:
By Stephanie Adams, all rights reserved
Yoga …in itself is not an institutionalized religion, per se. Hinduism is related to yoga through a common recognition of the Vedas as an authoritative source, and both Buddhism and Jainism share many of the core values of the Yoga tradition. But Classical Yoga is best understood as a system of spiritual practice, rather than a particular religion. Being non-sectarian in its essence, yoga represents a body of practices that may be fruitfully taken up by anyone who is serious about their spiritual development, regardless of their individual religious affiliation.
Although some people practice yoga out of devotion to a guru, there are others who follow their own guidance. Although yoga does not necessarily require belief in a Creator as we understand God in the traditional Western religious sense, the Yoga Sutra advocates devotion to Ishvara or the “Lord” who is described as an ultimate being forever unafflicted by worldly concerns. Whether this Lord is understood as God Almighty or as the yogic ideal of the liberated “Seer,” the decision about how to conceptualize Ishvara is (a) very personal one. By remaining deliberately ambiguous and non-dogmatic about such ultimate theological issues, the Yoga tradition establishes itself as a positive proponent for individual spiritual development for persons of all religious backgrounds and creeds.
The following are taken from writings from three world-renowned yogic scholars who have studied the ancient yogic texts for decades. Yoga is a non-sectarian science/philosophy. It has been used by religions, but it is not a religion. Many yogic scholars today say that yoga is clearly not a religion, and does not conflict with religious beliefs. It is a science of mind that can be used to understand the body/mind and, if you choose, to enhance your personal spiritual beliefs.
Think of the separation of yoga and religion as similar to the separation of church and state. Yoga was meant to be a safe haven for all. Here are a couple examples:
"Is Yoga a Religion? No. This confusion arose in our culture because Yoga evolved over thousands of years in the context of the spiritual and religious traditions of India. The practices of Yoga were appropriated into most of the different religious traditions of the East. When these teachings were first transmitted in the West, they were often taught by teachers who were also practicing one of the many forms of Hinduism, Sikhism, or Buddhism. The pure teachings of Yoga were therefore often mixed with the cultural and religious associations of the particular teacher.
Although the practices of Yoga were appropriated by these religious traditions, most of them dismissed Yoga as a secular science. Yoga is actually more correctly understood as a science of mind oriented towards understanding the mind/body relationship. Indeed we can see that many similar practices evolved and were appropriated into the religious traditions of the West. The pure teachings of Yoga have no theological orientation. The practices of Yoga when correctly taught will help anyone of any religious tradition deepen their own faith."
~ Gary Kraftsow
"When the word Yoga is mentioned, most people immediately think of some physical postures for relaxing and limbering up the body. This is one aspect of the Yogic science, but actually only a very small part and relatively recent in development. The physical Yoga, or Hatha Yoga, was primarily designed to facilitate the real practice of Yoga – namely, the understanding… So the actual meaning of Yoga is the science of the mind.
We all want to know more about our minds: how they work and how we can work with them. This field is closer to us than anything else in life. It may be interesting and useful to know how to fix a car or cook a meal or how atoms are split. But something that holds a more immediate and vital interest for thoughtful people is their own mind. What is the mind? Does it determine our behavior and experience or do we create and sustain its activity? What is consciousness? …
Patanjali is completely scientific in this respect. He sees Yoga as a rigorous science and never hesitates to give all the aspects of the practice and their ramifications. It is the duty of a scientist to understand and explain every aspect of his discoveries. It is just as when a chemist formulates a medicine. He has to explain its proper usage as well as any adverse reactions that could occur if not used properly."
~ Sri Swami Satchinanda in his commentary and translation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
"Yoga does not belong to any religion. Christ was a great yogi. Buddha was a great yogi. Yoga is the expansion of consciousness. Om represents all aspects of God. It is beyond our intelligence and the moment we try to explain it, it will no longer be its true meaning. We can say this, Om is universal connectedness and represents three levels of wisdom/knowledge: